A gunman on a motorbike opened fire on a Jewish school in southwestern France, killing four people- including three children- on Monday morning.
The massacre took place shortly after 8 AM when the shooter pulled up in front of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish School near the start of the school day, dismounted from his bike and opened fire on children, teachers and parents. Among the victims were 8 year old Miriam Monsonego, who was reportedly chased down and shot execution-style by the gunman.
Eyewitness accounts claim that the gun the assailant used had jammed before switching to a .45 and continuing his rampage before fleeing on the motorbike he arrived on.
The Ozar Hatorah Jewish school shooting came less than a week after three uniformed French soldiers in nearby Montauban were shot while waiting in line at an ATM.
Two of the soldiers were killed while the third remains in a coma. The shooting of the uniformed soldiers occurred at around 2:10 p.m. local time, on a street close to the 17th Parachute Engineer Regiment base.Witnesses report that the assailant in both attacks also arrived and fled on a black motorbike, wore a motorcycle helmet while shooting and one of the victims in the Montauban was shot execution-style. Three of the slain French soldiers are reportedly of Arab descent.
A locally-based official said that the perpetrator of the rive-by was riding a scooter and wearing a helmet with a visor. The rider opened fire on the soldiers while they attempted to withdraw money from an ATM.
The shooting follows a similar incident on Sunday, when a 30-year-old soldier was shot dead by a motorcycle-rider in a residential area of Toulouse, 29 miles south of Montauban
Much of Toulouse is made up of centuries-old buildings and narrow streets and alleys, making it easier for the gunman to evade police. The motorbike used by the assailant was reported stolen last month.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy said that it was obvious that the attack was anti-Semitic and stepped up security measures throughout the country, posting police officers and Gendarmerie outside of schools. President Sarkozy promised that 'exceptional' security measures would be taken in the mid Pyrenees region and suspended his re-election campaign.
With 400,000 to 500,000 Jews living in the country, France is home to western Europe's largest Jewish community. Over the last decade, France has seen a rise in anti-semitism- increasingly from Muslim immigrants- with Jewish cemetaries and schools being vandalised or torched as well as Jews wearing yarmulkes being assaulted by Arab gangs.